Muscle Sport Magazine

Are You Hitting the Gym at the Right Time?

By Joe Brown and Hayden Snider – You have landed on this page because chances are the gym isn’t a new environment for you.  You are no stranger to steady training throughout the week but maybe lack a consistent timetable of when you are getting to the gym because of your busy life.  Or maybe you have a consistent schedule but are eager to find out if you are training at an appropriate time for optimal performance benefit!


I’ll be the first to admit sometimes it’s tough to make a time to train that is set in stone across a given training cycle, but after reading this you may want to try a little bit harder!


You’re probably wondering…

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Does having a consistent training time during the day really matter in terms of resistance training?

Seems Promising!


Chtourou & Souissi (2012) demonstrate how training at a consistent time during the day could actually have positive adaptations in terms of muscular strength and power.  It is mentioned how training during the evening hours was most optimal in developing these strength and power adaptations compared to any other time of the day (Chtourou & Souissi 2012).


Ok, so now you know what you get from training at the SAME time every day, but…..


What time exactly are we talking in terms of training in the evening??


→ It is suggested that training in the evening around 5:00 pm seems to be the best in the optimization of power and strength adaptation!


Still a little skeptical?….. How is it that training in the evening hours will lead to greater benefit in strength!?


Here’s a look at some explanations to why training at a specific time during the day (evening hours) could be most optimal for resistance training!


Answer→ Circadian (rhythmic biological cycles of 24 hour recurrence) Time Structure of Hormonal Concentrations!

There are two essential hormones that can be used to outline the reasoning behind a specific ‘evening’ training time!




After resistance training, anabolic (growth) hormones are essential in increasing muscle protein synthesis and could even be associated as an important signaling factor for strength and hypertrophy development.  A major function of testosterone is keeping the body in a building state (anabolism) through the promotion of muscle protein synthesis and some evidence suggests that muscular strength and hypertrophy are dependant on increases in testosterone levels (Chtourou & Souissi 2012).




A catabolic hormone related to the degradation of muscle (atrophy).  Increased amounts for an extended period of time can lead to increases in muscle atrophy and decreases in strength.  Increases in cortisol prove to be essential but it is all time dependant!

Why is the relation between these hormones significant in terms of timing of resistance training??


→ It is suggested by Chtourou & Souissi (2012) that partaking in resistance training in the evening hours had a positive impact on altering cortisol levels, posing a greater decrease in the evening hours and resulting in a more anabolic (growth) environment opposed to catabolic (breakdown) compared to the morning!  So essentially during this time, there is less breakdown of muscle and more buildup which means greater increases in hypertrophy (skeletal muscle growth) induced by resistance training.


So now you know it is suggested the appropriate conditions when Resistance Training include:


→ Testosterone Cortisol   →  optimal circadian hormonal concentrations at 5:00 pm!!


Don’t think that these concentrations are only evident at 5:00 pm, however in the case of  Chtourou & Souissi (2012), it is demonstrated how at this specific time of day individuals consistently developed greater strength adaptation thus making it an essential time!


So what’s wrong with training in the morning?


Training in the morning isn’t wrong in any sense however, according to the study is not optimal in the development of strength training adaptation!  Chtourou & Souissi (2012) state that after 10 weeks of resistance training the typical diurnal pattern of maximum isometric strength was BLUNTED in the morning experimental group, however NOT in the evening group!


Basically, individuals who trained in the morning saw less strength adaption than those who trained in the evening!  In saying this, training in the morning may benefit individuals in other ways outside of strength and maybe strength isn’t your goal! However, if strength adaption is your desire, then training at night seems to be most optimal!





Now that you know the benefits to a consistent training time and the optimal time to obtain these benefits, all you have to do is train!  You know how to train, you are good at it and to top it all off, you have the knowledge of when to train!  So why not give it a try and combine what you have to ultimately enhance your performance!


Keep In Mind!


Resistance training adaptations are affected by duration of exercise and other training variables  must be taken into consideration.  Training frequency, number of sets, rest periods between sets, reps and type of exercise are among these variables that need to further examined (Chtourou & Souissi 2012).




If you have the flexibility and you are able to adapt your training schedule to the results presented then definitely take advantage and give it a try for optimal performance benefits!


If not, it is not the end of the world!


However, try training at the same time everyday that works for you so your body has at least a full 24 hours to recover from your previous training session!  For example, if you train at 7:00 pm in the evening, try not to train early the next morning, instead train later in the day closer to 7:00 pm to allow your body adequate recovery time.  Yes of course this depends on the individual and their ability to recover and the amount of exercise-induced muscle soreness they are able to tolerate, but based on personal experience, I’ve known this guideline to help!  Determine a time block in your day where you feel you can consistently commit to training throughout the week!




Chtourou, Hamdi & Souissi, Nizar. (2012). The Effect of Training at a Specific Time of Day.

Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. 26. 1984-2005. 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825770a7.


Hayden and Joe of HSCCOACH are on a mission to bring complex issues under spotlight, debunk myths about training and nutrition and provide insight into the practical implications surrounding a wide variety of topics!  We plan to combine science and practical application through information sharing while we both pursue a PhD. 

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